“Hot Dish Club” Making Meals For Families In-need

On Tuesday afternoon, a group of Ben Franklin Middle School students and staff members, about 25 in all, gathered in the FACs kitchen classroom in the school’s lower level. Their purpose: the belief that no BFMS student or their family should face the challenge of not having enough food at home.

For the past six weeks, the group, informally known as the “Hot Dish Club,” has been assembling ready-to-bake meals in 9×13 disposable pans. Ingredients and supplies for the meals have come from staff members themselves, as well as Sam’s Club, which has made a regular $100/month donation to the school’s project. Examples of past meals include pizza noodle bake, tater tot hotdish, tuna casserole, taco casserole, and chicken noodle hotdish. Tuesday’s meal was chicken and rice.

Club volunteers do some initial prep on the meals (such as precooking pasta) assemble them, and cover them in tinfoil, with cooking instructions written right on the top in magic marker. The meals simply need to have water added (if necessary), and then be baked for a specified time at 350 degrees. Each meal also comes with a bag of cut-up, fresh fruit.

Students who benefit from the project can make the meals with the club, pick them up later, or have them delivered to their house. The Hot Dish Club project began six weeks ago under the direction of FACs teachers Deb Hallquist and Katie Love. Its volunteers prepared eight meals. Through the discovery of other students in need, that number has increased to 20 dishes per week.

Tuesday’s meeting was the last one for the school year. The project is currently being evaluated as a limited summer activity.